The Minstrel

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It was later that day that he saw her, but only in a photograph.

She was on a Spanish newspaper. Someone had been murdered. A vicious killing; a prominent suburban preacher had been stabbed. His name was John Benedict, and apparently he had a weakness for prostitutes. He had been found in a cheap hotel, and Raulita had been seen running from the place about the time that the preacher died. She was not a suspect, but a witness. The sole witness. The woman was estimated to be about five foot four and one hundred pounds, too small to have stabbed this man with as much force that had been inflicted upon him. No one but the victim, the murderer, and presumably Raulita had seen the murder. The police needed her, and needed her badly. A black man had been arrested for the crime, but his friends, neighbors, and relatives all had an alibi, that he had been at his godson’s birthday party, and yet, he was still in jail. His family was outraged, as well as different people in the black community. The only evidence the police had was that a handkerchief with the suspect’s initials was found a few yards from the body, and the suspect was the nearest male resident with those initials. Besides, members of Benedict’s congregation insisted that a week earlier, the suspect had thrown racial epithets towards the Reverend while he made his weekly rounds of preaching through the neighborhood. And the congregates claimed that they had preached to the witness. She had been very irascible and seemed dangerous. So the police said that if anyone came across this woman, that they should call 911 immediately, and they would take care of the situation.

The minstrel felt fear. His daughter was being hunted again, and just as before, he was not there to protect her. He tried to remember last night’s dream, but he felt the fear anyway. He could not even be faithful to God even when he gave proof of his protection. He fell to his knees, crying, and begging for mercy from the Lord. Several passerby witnessed his outburst. They whispered amongst themselves. They whispered judgment. He was a condemned man, and guilt had been sentenced upon him.

He went to the abandoned church and spent the inside there where the cross still hung. day there. Before he could get right with Raulita, he had to get right with God. As long as he felt this judgment, he was not right with God. He knelt and stared at the immobile darkened figure hanging on the once-magnificent cross. It cried with him. It knew his suffering. It bestowed upon him the mercy he so desperately sought.

The streets were dark when he returned to them. He found his dinner in a dumpster behind a fancy restaurant and ate well; stew, lamb, green beans with almonds, cut corn, and bread. The food was still warm and had a drowsy effect on him. He sat by the dumpster and allowed his body to relax. He gave into the sleepiness. The dawn sun woke him the next day as it always did. He had no dreams.

He had no memory of the following day. He spent the day wandering down the streets, looking for Raulita. There was no sign of her. At the end of the day, he sat and watched the river, wondering where she was, seeing the endless horizon of the water made her presence seem more distant than ever.

The second time she ran away, she was gone for a long time. It was after her mother died. For three days. He had delayed the funeral just to find her. A panic. He felt like he had lost both of his loves. Ominous feeling that he remembered. He got a call from Raulita’s principal; she had run to her. She had been safe then but he had see a vision of the future. And she was being hunted now, like an animal.

God told him things. Always, he felt like God’s confidante, a position that he was honored and felt unworthy of. God told him things in his prayers, in his dreams, and through visions from high in the heavens. He could even hear God’s voice when he quieted his thoughts and spirit. Any time God spoke to him, he tried as best as he could to listen to everything he said. God was on his side, lowly as he was. God was his only true friend, and he valued that friendship. You did not turn a deaf ear to your one true friend.

She was alive, God told him in a vision. She was free. Every time he prayed, he saw her running through fair green fields. She was happy. There were clouds threatening to storm, traveling right on her heels. She was unaffected by them. In this vision, he knew that God was telling him that she was safe.

And of Lupe. He had dreams of her sleeping in a beautiful, peaceful forest. She looked innocent, like in their early days. He longed to see her again. He thought of the days that they had been in the mother land together. Little by little he remembered his life, and God gave his memory back. One day, He would give him Raulita and Lupe again. He had faith in God’s word.

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